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Call it the accidental ukulele company.

Joe Garland, owner and overall Big Kahuna here at BugsGear USA was simply looking for a ukulele that fit his lifestyle, and a company was created. A former resident of Hawai’i, Joe has been playing the ukulele off and on since he was 10 years old. As a former surfer and current owner of a well-known rock climbing & mountaineering equipment importer, Joe’s been working in the outdoor and action sport fields for most of his life, but every time he took his ukes traveling to far flung and remote locations, things never turned out that well—whether it was the deserts of the Southwest, the dampness of Seattle, the humidity of Asia or the cold of the Alps, local weather played havoc with the tuning and sound of Joe’s uke. As for durability, forget it: short of taking a heavyweight hard case (which cut into precious luggage space), Joe’s wooden ukuleles always got dinged—or broken-- in their soft travel cases. Plastic instruments seemed like a solution, but they were little more than flimsy toys with lousy sound quality. How could an outdoor adventure traveler get their uke on?

After much research and a few disappointments along the way, Joe discovered Bugsgear, manufacturers of the well-regarded Eleuke line of high-end electric ukuleles. BugsGear’s Korean owner and designer Philip K. is a genius with acoustics and materials, and his ABS polymer “Aquleles” not only had the durability but also a terrific tonal quality that rivaled the sound of any traditional wooden uke (see Phillip's full product line here: www.eleuke.com ).  Joe brought in a few of these instruments for himself and some friends, and soon word got out—first the climbers and campers his primary business sold to, then the local ukulele aficionados looking for a second instrument or something they could have lying around without worrying too much about damaging their instruments. Says Joe “What began as a search for a personal instrument for me and my friends to play has become a business for selling ukuleles for outdoors people and travelers. Not bad for a climbing bum from Hawai’i!”